Commando Memorial

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Commando Memorial
Commando Memorial above Spean Bridge - geograph.org.uk - 372539.jpg
Coordinates 56°53′52.42″N 4°56′38.51″W / 56.8978944°N 4.9440306°W / 56.8978944; -4.9440306
Location Lochaber, Scottish Highlands
Designer Scott Sutherland
Type statue
Material bronze sculpture
Height 17 feet (5.2 m)
Beginning date 1949
Completion date 1951
Opening date 1952
Dedicated to British Commandos

The Commando Memorial is a Category A listed monument in Scotland, dedicated to the men of the original British Commando Forces raised during World War II. Situated around a mile from Spean Bridge village, it overlooks the training areas of the Commando Training Depot established in 1942 at Achnacarry Castle. Unveiled in 1952 by the Queen Mother, it has become one of Scotland's best-known monuments, both as a war memorial and as a tourist attraction offering views of Ben Nevis and Aonach Mòr.

History[edit]

In 1949, the sculptor Scott Sutherland won a competition open to all Scottish sculptors for the commission, The Commando Memorial.[1] Sutherland's design won first prize of £200.[2] The base of the bronze statue is inscribed with the date of 1951. The sculpture was cast in the H.H Martyn and Company's foundry.[3] The memorial was officially unveiled by the Queen Mother on 27 September 1952.[3][4][5] The monument was first designated as a listed structure on 5 October 1971, and was upgraded to a Category A listing on 15 August 1996.[6] On 18 November 1993 a further plaque was added to mark the Freedom of Lochaber being given to the Commando Association.[7] On 27 March 2010 a 2 miles (3.2 km) war memorial path was opened connecting two local war memorials, the Commando Memorial, and the former High Bridge built by General Wade, where the first shots were fired in the Jacobite Rising of 1745 in the Highbridge Skirmish.[8]

Description[edit]

The monument consists of a cast bronze sculpture of three Commandos in characteristic dress complete with cap comforter, webbing and rifle, standing atop a stone plinth.[3] The soldier at the front is thought to depict Commando Frank Nicholls. The one of the other two soldiers is Jack Lewington (rank unknown) who frequently attended Remembrance Service at the moniment during his lifetime, the other remains unknown. The three Commandos are depicted looking south towards Ben Nevis.[9] The entire monument is 17 feet (5.2 m) tall.[7][10] The monument has been variously described as a huge, striking and iconic statue.[9][10][11]

"United we conquer" is inscribed around the top of the stone plinth, while the original plaque on the stone plinth reads: "In memory of the officers and men of the commandos who died in the Second World War 1939–1945. This country was their training ground."[3][4]

Location[edit]

Spean Bridge is a small village around 8 miles (13 km) north-east of the town of Fort William in the Scottish Highlands, and the memorial is located approximately 1 mile (1.6 km) north-west of Spean Bridge, at the junction of the A82 road and the B8004 road. It is a prominent landmark visible from the A82, and the site itself offers views across the River Spean valley to the peaks of Ben Nevis and Aonach Mòr to the south.[9][12]

The location was chosen because it is on the route from Spean Bridge railway station to the former Commando Training Centre at nearby Achnacarry Castle. Arriving prospective Commandos would de-train after a 14-hour journey, load their kit bags onto waiting trucks and then speed march the 7 miles (11 km) to the training centre in full kit with weapon, weighing a total of 36 pounds (16 kg). Anyone not completing it within 60 minutes was immediately RTU'd (returned to unit).[1][13]

It has become one of Scotland's best-known war memorials and a popular tourist attraction, visited by tens of thousands of people every year.[12]

Memorial[edit]

The Garden of Remembrance, 2007

The monument stands as a memorial to the British Commandos who trained all around the Lochaber region which the monument overlooks, while they were based at the Achnacarry Commando Training Centre established in 1942.[10][11][14] As such it is used as site for memorial services, including the 60th anniversary of D-Day, and Remembrance Day ceremonies.[9][15]

A Garden of Remembrance, which was subsequently added to the site, is used by many surviving World War II Commandos as the designated final resting place for their ashes.[10][12] It has also been used as a place where many families have scattered ashes and erected tributes to loved ones who belonged to contemporary Commando units and who have died in more recent conflicts such as the Falklands War or in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Sculptor[edit]

Scott Sutherland (15 May 1910 - 10 October 1984) was an award-winning Scottish sculptor born in Wick, Highland and schooled at Gray's School of Art, the Edinburgh College of Art and the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. After touring Europe and winning two out of the five open commissions offered for the Empire Exhibition, he served in the Army during World War II, working alongside commandos. After the war he took the post of Head of Sculpture at Duncan of Jordanstone' College in 1947. Sutherland was elected ARSA (Associate of the Royal Scottish Academy) in 1950 and FRBS (Fellow of the Royal British Society of Sculptors) in 1961. In 1975 he retired, and died nine years later in hospital in Dundee.[1]

Gallery[edit]

For a full gallery see The Commando Memorial page on the Wikimedia Commons

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Sutherland, Scott". Biographies of British Artists. London Atelier of Representational Art. 13 December 2008. Archived from the original on 6 April 2010. Retrieved 6 April 2010. 
  2. ^ "Commando Memorial". Commando Magazine. 23 April 2008. Archived from the original on 6 April 2010. Retrieved 6 April 2010. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Commando Memorial". Memorials database, result for entry 5894. UK National Inventory of War Memorials. undated. Archived from the original on 6 April 2010. Retrieved 6 April 2010.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  4. ^ a b "Commando war memorial". War Memorials Trust. undated. Archived from the original on 6 April 2010. Retrieved 6 April 2010.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  5. ^ "Memorial to Commandos - Unveiling by The Queen Mother". The Times. 29 September 1952. Archived from the original on 29 August 2012. Retrieved 29 August 2012. 
  6. ^ "Spean Bridge, Commando Memorial". Historic Scotland. undated. Archived from the original on 6 April 2010. Retrieved 6 April 2010.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  7. ^ a b "Commando Monument". Gazetteer for Scotland. 29 January 2008. Archived from the original on 6 April 2010. Retrieved 6 April 2010. 
  8. ^ "Lochaber landmarks footpath opened". The Press and Journal (D. C. Thomson & Co.). 27 March 2010. Archived from the original on 6 April 2010. Retrieved 6 April 2010. 
  9. ^ a b c d "Prayers in shadow of Ben Nevis". BBC News. 1 May 2004. Archived from the original on 6 April 2010. Retrieved 6 April 2010. 
  10. ^ a b c d "Sick thieves pinch memorial stones from Commando statue". Daily Record. 2 December 2008. Archived from the original on 6 April 2010. Retrieved 6 April 2010. 
  11. ^ a b "Wars' mark on Highlands landscape". BBC News. 13 June 2008. Archived from the original on 6 April 2010. Retrieved 6 April 2010. 
  12. ^ a b c "Memorial 'an insult to heroes who died for their country'". Daily Mail. 12 June 1999. Retrieved 6 April 2010. 
  13. ^ WO2 Gareth Evans MBE RM (undated). "The Spean Bridge Commando Speed March". royalnavy.mod.uk > Operations and Support > Royal Marines (Old) > Royal Marines Units > Commando Training Centre > News. Royal Navy. Archived from the original on 6 April 2010. Retrieved 6 April 2010.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  14. ^ "Thieves take commando donations". BBC News. 6 November 2008. Archived from the original on 6 April 2010. Retrieved 6 April 2010. 
  15. ^ "City set to celebrate VE Day in style". Evening Telegraph And Post (D. C. Thomson & Co.). 5 May 2005. Archived from the original on 6 April 2010. Retrieved 6 April 2010. 

External links[edit]